How many of you can name your local newspaper and to further extend that question how many of you actually read it? With practically every borough in London covered by a local news publication and a wide range of hyper-local news websites to choose from, we do have access to the happenings in our local communities. But are we more concerned about what is happening on the national front, than what takes place on our own doorstep?
As someone who has spent time reporting about local news I know to the extent the effect this has on members of the community. For example I once reported on the story of a manageress of a charity shop located in my hometown. Friendly and welcoming we spoke at length about how the shop directly served the community we were both part of. What was brought to my attention was her self-admitted lack of ability to use the Internet. As a result she began to make an appeal for young technology savvy teens to help out with promoting the charity’s cause through social media. With her time devoted to the charity she found that she was unable to implement this appeal and as such asked for my assistance. From this I wrote a story about her appeal and was able to reach a wider audience via the news site it was published on, raising awareness on behalf of someone who neither had the time or resources to do so.
The power of local journalism lies in its ability to promote and encourage development within its surroundings areas. Generating awareness and interest in the borough’s businesses and services, directly targeting that towards the boroughs inhabitants can serve as a great way to promote business growth. Spending money in the local bakery or coffee shop instead of taking a trip to the nearest Starbucks, helps maintain the companies that are very much dependant on consumer activity displayed by local residents.
Though the points I’ve raised above and the issues and difficulties faced by local newspapers can be brought in to context via its sometimes inferior position to national broadsheets, tabloids and lifestyle magazines. National newspapers present to us issues that affect the span of the country reminding us that there is a world outside of our own towns and cities. But of course the country is made up of differing types of people from a number of various backgrounds, so it is near impossible to report on every individual’s plights and achievements. Hence why there is a focus on government behaviour, concepts that affect the country as a whole.
Similarly magazines from music to sport to celebs to lifestyle present the global issues. Magazines have the ability to distract you while you gloss over high-end fashion photo shoots and in-depth features. While celeb mags keep you updated with the lives of the rich and famous, the Vogues and Harper’s Baazar remind you that you are not part of the rich and famous. Though laden with many unattainable concepts upheld by a magnitude of fashion adverts, many of us continue to read these fashion bibles, because it provides a route of escapism. Whether we can afford the products or not, just for a short amount of time we are transported to another realm, far away from our own reality. Some may look down on readers of such publications for their materialist and consumerist central themes, but if they can provide a 30 min break for the woman or man who’s worried about their work, marriage or life, providing an outlet or release from pressure, then so be it.
With that said local news journalism and national news journalism do not exist entirely independent from each other. Local journalism acts as the grassroots and foundation of national and even global news. The issues raised in local communities will always spark debate and filter through to the national press. For example, the issue of the British education system is one that is forever at the forefront of the news. Within all stories relating to this subject you will find there is a mother from London, Newcastle, Liverpool or any other city in the country, who is struggling to find a school place for their child. The human elements of any news story, is always dependent on the people who live, work and socialise in the local communities and from these stories are wider societal issues exemplified and go on to form the basis of the national press.